Celebrating International Women's Day with My Long-Promised Power of the Purse Blog
| March 09, 2006
Welcome. Maybe it's because I've written about marketing and advertising too long that I believed I needed a reason to launch my blog. So I decided that during a month that celebrates women it was about time I launched my blog. I'll write about trends in women's economic power that inspire me...or make me angry...more on that below. I'll highlight marketing efforts that I think are good...and those I think miss the mark. I hope to hear from you as well about these topics or ones that you want to discuss with other readers of the blog.
So to begin. Just one day into Women's History Month and already there was "bad news" about women's progress on the job front in the pages of The New York Times. The headline read: "Stretched to the Limit, Women Stall March to Work." (www.nytimes.com) The text of the story outlined research showing that while women have made great progress in entering the workforce - 75 percent of women ages 25-54 work or are looking for work up from 40 percent in the 1950s according to the story - even greater progress on women going to work is stalling.
One reason offered is research shows women still do the majority of the work of tending house and raising children, leaving less time for career advancement. The research also appears too show that the pressures of juggling career and family are forcing some women to choose between the two roles. The number of women entering the workforce has flattened out in the past several years. This isn't a new phenomenon. A few years ago, the Times ran a story about the "opt-out revolution" that highlighted a so-called trend of highly educated women choosing being a wife and a mother over a career.
I have struggled to understand what these statistics really mean and what action they require from us as women as well as from society as a whole. Choosing between motherhood and a career or job isn't an easy choice. Most women end up doing both because they must. Opting-out isn't an option for families that need two incomes to support their families.
More important, I believe, is that work is both a financial and emotional imperative for women. Women who "opt-out" of working lose valuable investments in retirement and Social Security benefits - a loss that I think many women don't factor into their decision to take time off. Moreover, we can't afford to lose women's voices inside of business organizations either as voices that inspire new ways of working or pushing for institutional change that will make it possible for everyone - men and women - to take more active roles in being parents and spouses. The emotional reward of work also can't be overstated - if it isn't overshadowed by the grind of juggling a career and family. So what is the answer? For me, a beginning would be to make the choice to work and raise a family easier for both men and women. We need better childcare and even more flexible work initiatives so choosing both a family and career is the option we want - not the option that leaves us tired, frustrated and facing the "opt-out" question. What do you think? What would make your life of work, family, life easier? Do you think it's a problem you have to solve alone or something that society must address?
I'll be back next week with more on the power of the purse. Look for a discussion of Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and her discussion of her plans to get Michigan moving. She gives a lot of credit to what she considers women's ability to "get things done." I also managed to follow through on my plan to get a copy of my book into her hands.